During his visit to Doha, the Iranian President presented the Emir of Qatar with an Iranian-made Nanoscope; a three-dimensional visualization tool, which is only produced by 5 countries in the entire world. Of course, his visit was accompanied with the customary threats to wipe Israel off the map, and the global political scene, if it attacked Iran.
The Iranian President’s message is clear, namely that Iran is powerful, and scientifically advanced, to a degree matched by only a few countries worldwide, thus enabling it to produce complex scientific instruments. Consequently, this was a troubling message for Western powers, which are monitoring Iran, because of its nuclear program and continuous threats to Israel.
The Emir of Qatar’s response was also eloquent and expressive, and he thanked the Iranian President for his gift by saying – as the Qatari press quoted – that the late Egyptian President [Jamal] Abdul Nasser had also given the Emir’s father a device (during the sixties) which Qatar still holds on to, and he would be happy to keep the Iranian device.
The state of the region has not changed. It seems that there are similarities and comparisons between the 1950s and 1960s, and the first decade of the 21st century, in both language and discourse (who could forget the slogan, “from the needle to the rocket”?). Yet there are similarities despite changes in the outside world, communities, and the balance of power.
Decades ago, there were officers and ideologues of secular nationalism, battling with the ‘turbans’ and the clerics, who wanted to become politicians and rulers. Now, having achieved their dream to become rulers, as in the case of Iran, these religious figures use the same language and to some extent, the core of secular nationalism ideology, with a religious façade. No one wants to learn from past experiences.
This is not to downplay the achievements, or to minimize the importance of seeking scientific enlightenment in order to progress along the ‘chain of nations’, and gain a respected place at the international table, for this is a natural right. Yet it is important to have the correct model for development, to build upon what has already been built, and make a solid foundation that won’t collapse. We should not focus on extravagant announcements, which no one knows the extent of their accuracy.
Follow-up reports and declarations made by Iran throughout the last few months revealed that most of its announcements concern military achievements. For example, missiles, drone planes, speed boats capable of closing off the Gulf, and equipment for enriching uranium, which has raised doubts throughout the world about a secret military nuclear program.
In contrast, there are no economic reports on living conditions and development plans, with such enthusiasm. Unemployment rates are high; some figures suggest 12 percent, whilst others state 25 percent, accounting for ‘disguised unemployment’. Inflation figures have risen sharply, and traditional bazaar merchants, who were behind the revolution in the first place, became disillusioned and called a strike, which was carried out last month, completely shutting down the bazaar.
If we look at much of the industrialized world or the developed East and West, we would find that the standard of real progress is not linked to rockets. Rather, it is linked first and foremost to a wide industrial and technological base, supported by a strong and sophisticated education system, relatively good living standards, in conjunction with a social security network. All of these countries, if they wanted to produce missiles, could do so within a short time frame, depending on their industrial and scientific foundations.
In short, there is much in the Iranian model that is not satisfactory. The declarations announced by Iran are similar to an announcement made by Saddam Hussein, during one of the Arab meetings. He came out publicly and said “I possess chemical weapons, the world fears me”. It was proved in the end that the volume of propaganda exceeded the truth. What we really want is genuine development, and peacefully, without challenging the world, because development doesn’t happen in a few days, or even a few years, but over decades, in a state of prolonged stability.